Paul's Passing Thoughts

Protestantism: So Many Flavors, but It’s All Ice Cream

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 11, 2015

Protestantism has many different denominations and interpretations of the Bible, and let me explain why that’s the case. Protestantism was founded on the idea that the law of God has a single dimension. That’s the foundation, and that fleshes itself out in one way or the other across all denominational lines.

For purposes of keeping this simple, we will focus on how this applies according to what is in vogue presently: the law can only condemn; the law can only provoke us to sin; the law demands perfection or all bets are off; the standard for being justified is perfect law-keeping.

What to do about law? That fundamental question is what divides all sects of Protestantism. It is what drives all the bickering between Calvinists, Arminians, free grace (Zane Hodges), and the anti-lordship salvation crowd which is mostly made up of the free grace crowd

This is why Protestants can’t seem to get it together on Christian living. Trying to make a single dimension law work in the Christian life causes all kinds of confusion. Staying in the same vein of simplicity, let’s use Romans 8:2 in an attempt to understand the problem:

Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

That’s two different relationships to the same law. To the born again believer, the Spirit uses the law to sanctify the believer (John 17:17). To walk in the Spirit is to learn and obey the word of God which is life. This is a colaboring with the Spirit in the truest sense.

To the unbeliever, the law can only condemn, and sin within uses the law to provoke the unbeliever to sin. To the unbeliever, the law can only bring death. Hence, “the law of sin and death.”

In what way does the law set us free to “serve another”? When we believe its testimony, it sets us free from being condemned by it, and frees us to obey it as a way of loving God and others. This isn’t a difficult concept: if we listen to wisdom we live; if we reject wisdom we die, but it’s the same wisdom.

Again, for purposes of making a simple point in this post, I am not going into how this all fits together with the believer being truly righteous, and able to please God through obedience while falling short of perfection. You aren’t going to understand any of that till you get this basic point anyway.

The following prompted this post: I stumbled upon an anti-lordship salvation kind of guy named Jack Smack who believes Calvinists, Arminians, and proponents of lordship salvation are all going to hell. Again, this all boils down to differences in how you get the square peg of a single dimension law into the round hole of Christian living and the gospel. Note what he states in the video:

 Now what is Lordship salvation? It’s the idea that you have to live a certain way, you have to prove you are saved by your works.  You got to obey God; you got to repent of your sins, and it’s all of this jargon.  And there’s a lot, there’s a few other things they say:  the lot of them will tell you, you know, you can’t live any way you want to and all this, well, they’re trying to control you.  They’re trying to put you under the law.  They’re doing exactly what these Jews were doing.  It says, “why compest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”  Okay…

15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

Now look at this:  Lordship Salvation, they’re people trying to get you to sin – they want you to sin! They teach lawless, that lewd antinomianism, because if you get down to it, they’re trying to put you back under a law.  And all the law can do is cause you to sin.

18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

So actually, in all reality, ironically, a Lordship Salvationist claims like they don’t want people to keep on sinning, but the reality of what they teach, it’s going to make you go on sinning, according to that verse.  So yes, Lordship Salvation proponents are antinomian.  Regardless of whether or not they will admit this, the bible says they are.  Any time you try to put somebody under a law, you are making them into a bigger sinner PERIOD.

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

So, it’s all I have.  Lordship Salvation makes you into a bigger sinner because you’re imposing laws on people that they just can’t obey on their own, and um…that’s exactly what these people are doing.  So I , you know, believe in, I teach Free Grace.  I teach that we’re justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Now you have to understand Free Grace, or you cannot serve God; and you cannot, you know, obey God.  You have to understand what’s been done on your behalf: Jesus Christ died for your sins. He was buried and rose again.  He gives eternal life as a free gift.  So, on the basis of that, we should want to serve God and to live right.  And that’s what I teach.  People that are teaching law, lordship, they’re the antinomians because the reality of what they teach leads to uh..transgression.

In the Bible, there are only two kinds of people: under law (lost), and under grace (saved). But what is missed in Protestantism is that being under grace doesn’t exclude being under law, it’s just not the law of sin and death. The law informs us as to what people need to do to be free from being condemned by the law, resulting in being free to use the law for loving God and others.  If we want to know what to do in order to not die for lack of wisdom, we go and ask Lady Wisdom, right?

When we are saved by believing the law’s testimony about Christ, we are set free from its condemnation in a one time, completed transformation from death to life. We are now free to serve the law unto life more abundantly. Freedom from the law of condemnation is a gift, but obedience to the law as a born again believer yields rewards in the present life and the life to come. Hence, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” But living to God doesn’t exclude the law; Matthew 4:4 couldn’t be clearer on that.

Nevertheless, notice how Smack states that the relationship of the law of sin and death remains the same for the believer. This keeps believers “under law,” which is the very definition of a lost person. He states that a demand for Christians to obey the law only causes them to sin more! Woe! But frankly, this take on law is the same problem with Protestantism in general across the board.

The obvious question becomes: how do I obey the law as a Christian in a way that won’t cause me to sin more or condemn me? Of course, this has caused much confusion among Protestants. The remedy is usually a confusing system of some sort that imputes the perfect obedience of Jesus to our life in the same way His righteousness was imputed to us by faith alone. These systems range from outright denial of the law in the Christians life to a “relaxing of the law.”

Here is what Christians need to come to grips with: the two uses of the law in Romans 8:2. That is the key.